Hand feeding a bull - tips?

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Ozhorse

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I have only been farming cattle for seven years and one thing I have not done is hand feed cattle. So at the risk of sounding like a real ignoramus could I get a bit of advice of fully hand feeding a bull.

Life has been tough the last 18 moths as the whole farm got burt out in a bushfire in Jan 2013. We got through last winter with hay donations. Then I would have got away with it except then it did not rain for three months over summer and was extremely hot and windy. What the fire did not kill the lack of rain did. The whole place is like a bowling green.

I have a fairly aged bull with good genetics. He has had a really rough time and is in poor condition. I would like to hand feed him this winter and have him in good condition to work by November. I need to set it up so it is quick to feed. Big square bales are about $250 per bale plus transport and thin cows are about 80c/kg at the local sale yards so I need also to do this economically. Pellets or grain are about $25 per bag. Anyway, enough sob story.

I have on hand nice oaten hay with some oats in and rye grass with some lucerne. I can get more large bales of good lucerne and or oaten hay. Assume no grass in the paddock.

What weight of hay is he likely to need over the next three months?
Do I need to build up to feeding large quantities of oat hay or just put lots of it in front of him?
What does oat hay lack that I need to back up with?
What mix of oaten vs rye or lucerne hay?
Do you think I should feed pellets, or grain or sweet feed with the hay?
What weight of pellets should I build up to per day for a large angus bull?
If I feed oat hay should I give him a urea block with it?

I am used to hand feeding horses. Is it really any different? or the same only larger quantities?
 

piedmontese

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If its good oat hay with oats in it that should be enough along with loose mineral and a protein tub.make sure he's been wormed.
 

John SD

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I'm gonna go a differerent direction with this. :hide:

Despite your best efforts and money spent, are you sure you can have this "aged" bull back in shape for breeding in Nov?

If it was me, I might take this as an opportunity to upgrade bulls. "Here" bulls are bringing pretty good weighup price.

Take the proceeds from selling him along with what you would have spent trying to bring him back into breeding condition will go quite a ways towards purchase of a new virgin yearling or 2 yr old bull. :idea:

My :2cents: and worth what you paid. ;-) Good luck in whatever is your decision.
 
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Ozhorse

Ozhorse

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One of the reasons for the questions I am asking is so I can work out how much it is likely to cost me in $ and trouble so I can work out if it is worth doing. I think he might be worth $800 maximum now. I can get an average style of angus bull private sale for about $2500. I have had to cut back cow numbers and if we get that El Nino I might have hardly any cows this time next year. I have other bulls so I could get by without him. I know he is still working as he walked over a damaged fence and in with some dry cows in the last few months and half of them PTIC.
This is him.
http://abri.une.edu.au/online/cgi-bin/i ... 9=515B595A

I use him on cows, not heifers. On his figures: I want to get some size and actually increase the BWT a bit toward breed average. His rib and rump fat figures are low for me. On the bull himself, nice temperament and a big animal. His calves out of adult cows are good. He is 8 and big and still seems to be sound to work at this age. I dont have many of his daughters and they are heifers as I got him 2nd hand.

Do I assume 2% bodyweight (of the weight I want) in hay and say 1000 kg bull x 2% = 20 kg hay a day x 60 days = 1200 kg hay? = about two large bales = $500 plus, say $20/bag pellets @ about 3 kg/ day = 1 bag week x 6 weeks = $120……whole job cost $650 plus time and trouble?

$650 can go a fair way in an AI program.

He has been oral drenched for fluke and backlined with Eprinex, had 5 in1 and long acting Selenium shots. OK, that means I cant sell him for two months anyway so with or without extra feed I have to run him over winter.

Excuse the ignorance, what is a protein tub? I dont think we have them under that name here. Is it a molasses and urea block?
 

Jessica06

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If it were ME, I would probably sell him, since 1) he's 8 and has very little usefulness left, 2) you can get by without him, 3) feed is expensive, and 4) conditions aren't likely to improve. If you can get $800 for him right now, that's $800 that can buy feed for your other cattle, and one less big mouth to feed. You have some daughters, so his genetics won't be totally lost. Are your cattle registered? That could change things.

Sure sounds like a long withdrawal period. Here, it would only be a few weeks at the most. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
 

Jessica06

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A protein tub is just molasses/urea cooked and put in a big plastic tub. Usually 32% CP.
 

Don McCallum

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Big bales of hay $250 and feed $25, how big are these? If this is not a typo, how can you people stay in business? Am I
reading this wrong?
 
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Ozhorse

Ozhorse

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Don McCallum":328a91e6 said:
Big bales of hay $250 and feed $25, how big are these? If this is not a typo, how can you people stay in business? Am I
reading this wrong?

Nope, not reading it wrong and that is a very good question and one which has been much on my mind.
The bales are large squares, the biggest ones, about 8ft long. Pellets 20 kg = 44 lb = $25.

It really annoys me that you guys get more than double per kg or pound for exactly the same genetics (eg angus, that bull I am trying to feed, his sire is from USA, his dam side is all USA blood) and that is on a bad market your end. What is wrong with the cattle market in Australia? and particularly in this district?

I hit a bad calf sale in end March. I sold 105 angus calves 6 to 8 months of, not top condition, but quite decent and averaged $300.
Forced to sell one deck (25) 7 yr old cows last week on point of calving, around 500 kg, 1100 lb at $450. More usual price $600; good market $800.

The price of the hay does not include freight for 150 km round trip to get it home. Diesel is $1.60/litre, roughly $6/gallon; say about half that cost government tax. The cost of diesel cranks up the cost of everything except the end product.
 
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Ozhorse

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ricebeltrancher":rrgc9yjz said:
If it were ME, I would probably sell him, since 1) he's 8 and has very little usefulness left, 2) you can get by without him, 3) feed is expensive, and 4) conditions aren't likely to improve. If you can get $800 for him right now, that's $800 that can buy feed for your other cattle, and one less big mouth to feed. You have some daughters, so his genetics won't be totally lost. Are your cattle registered? That could change things.

Sure sounds like a long withdrawal period. Here, it would only be a few weeks at the most. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Thanks, I need someone else's view apart from my own sometime.

He is registered (my bulls all are) and some of my best cows are too but I dont see where I could get any premium for going to the trouble of registering the calves. I would like to.

The Export Slaughter Interval on Triclabendazole oral for fluke is 56 days.
 

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Ozhorse, forget about AI program, if things are as tough as you say there you are going to have to pump a lot of feed into your cows to have any sort of success.
Ken
 

Jessica06

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Ozhorse":25xrb2vq said:
Don McCallum":25xrb2vq said:
Big bales of hay $250 and feed $25, how big are these? If this is not a typo, how can you people stay in business? Am I
reading this wrong?

Nope, not reading it wrong and that is a very good question and one which has been much on my mind.
The bales are large squares, the biggest ones, about 8ft long. Pellets 20 kg = 44 lb = $25.

It really annoys me that you guys get more than double per kg or pound for exactly the same genetics (eg angus, that bull I am trying to feed, his sire is from USA, his dam side is all USA blood) and that is on a bad market your end. What is wrong with the cattle market in Australia? and particularly in this district?

I hit a bad calf sale in end March. I sold 105 angus calves 6 to 8 months of, not top condition, but quite decent and averaged $300.
Forced to sell one deck (25) 7 yr old cows last week on point of calving, around 500 kg, 1100 lb at $450. More usual price $600; good market $800.

The price of the hay does not include freight for 150 km round trip to get it home. Diesel is $1.60/litre, roughly $6/gallon; say about half that cost government tax. The cost of diesel cranks up the cost of everything except the end product.

Sounds like what we were dealing with in 2011 when we had such a terrible drought. Input costs through the roof, no grass, everyone having to sell, and cattle prices pretty darn low. The sale barns were going until 4 in the morning and they were having to send cattle home. Not rock bottom, but pretty close impo. And of course, the government wasn't helping by trying to cram NAIS down our throats and creating false demand for corn by mandating ethanol use. Among many other things. :bang:

Generally, though, we get better prices over here because we have put so much money and time into marketing, and have the quality of product to back it up (CAB, USDA quality grades, etc..). Nearly all of our Prime beef goes overseas, and the vast majority of our cattle are finished in feedlots on domestic grain. Also, our export market is only getting bigger, which makes a big difference. If what they taught us in college is still accurate, the vast majority of Australian beef is finished on grass/forage, which is less desirable for most people that are looking for an "enjoyable eating experience." South America is in the same boat, as nearly all of their cattle are finished on grass. For things to change, Australia just needs to convince the world that their product is better. They'll have their work cut out for them though...we are pretty good at what we do! 8)
 

wbvs58

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ricebeltrancher":3ffhef5o said:
Ozhorse":3ffhef5o said:
Don McCallum":3ffhef5o said:
Big bales of hay $250 and feed $25, how big are these? If this is not a typo, how can you people stay in business? Am I
reading this wrong?

Nope, not reading it wrong and that is a very good question and one which has been much on my mind.
The bales are large squares, the biggest ones, about 8ft long. Pellets 20 kg = 44 lb = $25.

It really annoys me that you guys get more than double per kg or pound for exactly the same genetics (eg angus, that bull I am trying to feed, his sire is from USA, his dam side is all USA blood) and that is on a bad market your end. What is wrong with the cattle market in Australia? and particularly in this district?

I hit a bad calf sale in end March. I sold 105 angus calves 6 to 8 months of, not top condition, but quite decent and averaged $300.
Forced to sell one deck (25) 7 yr old cows last week on point of calving, around 500 kg, 1100 lb at $450. More usual price $600; good market $800.

The price of the hay does not include freight for 150 km round trip to get it home. Diesel is $1.60/litre, roughly $6/gallon; say about half that cost government tax. The cost of diesel cranks up the cost of everything except the end product.

Sounds like what we were dealing with in 2011 when we had such a terrible drought. Input costs through the roof, no grass, everyone having to sell, and cattle prices pretty darn low. The sale barns were going until 4 in the morning and they were having to send cattle home. Not rock bottom, but pretty close impo. And of course, the government wasn't helping by trying to cram NAIS down our throats and creating false demand for corn by mandating ethanol use. Among many other things. :bang:

Generally, though, we get better prices over here because we have put so much money and time into marketing, and have the quality of product to back it up (CAB, USDA quality grades, etc..). Nearly all of our Prime beef goes overseas, and the vast majority of our cattle are finished in feedlots on domestic grain. Also, our export market is only getting bigger, which makes a big difference. If what they taught us in college is still accurate, the vast majority of Australian beef is finished on grass/forage, which is less desirable for most people that are looking for an "enjoyable eating experience." South America is in the same boat, as nearly all of their cattle are finished on grass. For things to change, Australia just needs to convince the world that their product is better. They'll have their work cut out for them though...we are pretty good at what we do! 8)
Ricebeltrancher, I think you will find that we are a pretty strong competitor with you in the prime market. We compete very successfully with you in the Japanese and Korean prime market, our fully traceable product is highly regarded. You do have a bit of a jump on us with tarrifs however our Free Trade Aggreements are coming online now and we are catching up. Yes we do have a lot of lean meat especially in the north however we have a good market for that in your country for grinding and mixing with your excess fat, like you say most of your prime cuts go overseas so you have a nice eating experience with our lean beef ground up with your fat.
We don't have a problem with our markets at the moment, we are enjoying the same demand as you are, however 2 failed wet seasons in the north has put a constant stream of cattle to processors and they seem to be making the most of the situation. Once this run of cattle slows down it is anticipated that demand will increase and so will prices.
 

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ricebeltrancher":se32iyfn said:
Generally, though, we get better prices over here because we have put so much money and time into marketing, and have the quality of product to back it up (CAB, USDA quality grades, etc..). Nearly all of our Prime beef goes overseas, and the vast majority of our cattle are finished in feedlots on domestic grain. Also, our export market is only getting bigger, which makes a big difference. If what they taught us in college is still accurate, the vast majority of Australian beef is finished on grass/forage, which is less desirable for most people that are looking for an "enjoyable eating experience." South America is in the same boat, as nearly all of their cattle are finished on grass. For things to change, Australia just needs to convince the world that their product is better. They'll have their work cut out for them though...we are pretty good at what we do! 8)

Actually, beef consumption has been pretty much flat since 1950, Pork consumption increased to a certain extent, but the only meat that has continued to increase in consumption is poultry.
I saw this charted out for all sorts of commodities a while back, I can't remember the site, I'd have to find it but don't have time to search it now


Those are pretty bad prices.. don't know how your dollar compares, but our diesel here is about 1.30/L.

If you like the bull and you wouldn't get much for him now, you can consider this feed expense as "used up" this breeding season and not having much of a long term benefit. Your hay dounds expensive as well,.. It's about what I sell my hay for but I sell it to finnicky horse people. Oat hay is just fine, I was up til 4 am baling last night, cows don't LIKE it as much as lucerne (alfalfa right?) but they do fine on it, I'd say alfalfa hay would be better from a nutritional standpoint when you're trying to put weight on an animal.
 
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Ozhorse

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Our $ was above the USD for a little while recently, and is probably about 90 c something now so just for figuring think of it as the same. About half the cost of fuel here is government tax somewhere down the line and that cost is just crippling to everything.

Ooops, just remembered you are Canada (not US). Ok you are suffering similar diesel prices to us.

We are in a sort of difficult area transport wise. It is not a grain or hay growing area and hay and grain has a 5 hour transport minimum. There is no other industry to support more money in the area (logging was closed down by greenies in their infinite wisdom), which relies on wool, and there is not much money in that any more. There are only 3 or 4 buyers at the local cattle market so they just travel in together and pay as much as they feel like. More reliable cattle prices can be had trucking 5 hours away. The good thing is that as a consequence land prices are much cheaper here.

Hay is reasonable else where but if I want to buy less than a semi-load I am stuck at over $200 a bale for anything.

Thanks for the advice about feeding. I hardly ever feed anything except the riding horses, for obvious reasons. I think I will go and get some alphalpha (lucerne) hay as well as I will need it sometime.
 

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Just out of curiosity, what do the buyers give premiums for, and what kind of cattle do they discount? I know that just a few years ago, there was a lot of talk over here about ranches in the really tough country (New Mexico, Arizona, W. Texas, etc...) switching to more self-sufficient type breeds like Corrientes and Longhorns, because they could hoof it a lot better and make a living where the other breeds couldn't.
 
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Ozhorse

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OK, this is just our local yard which is I think rather odd, where the properties are fairly small (by australian standards) and the feed lots and grain a long way away. It is a breeding area not a fattening one as the climate is too harsh. Sometimes cattle can be fattened in a good season but one can never be in any way sure we will get a suitable season.

You would have to get one of the big boys from Queensland who post here sometimes to answer for what they get paid for up north and where big money is concerned and where they deal direct with processors and feedlots with forward contracts and other sophisticated things.

In this area it MUST be black or hereford. If it is ANYTHING else it gets crucified. The buyers want big lines of very even black steers so they can ship them out long distances for backgrounding or to feed lots. One of the few benefits here is a reputation that cattle from here will do well anywhere else as it is unusual in Australia to run cattle in such a cold climate.

Any other types of cattle sold here (young cows, old cows, bulls) usually go to grinding beef. The Wagga market 5 hours away is more stable than this one because it is big and central and in a grain district where there are feedlots. When we send cows from Cooma to Wagga it is likely they will be shipped straight back to Cooma to Monbeef where they process cows, especially ex dairy cows (shipped in from the coast)for grinding, and we get penalized heavily for fat on them. Monbeef may have to pay more for our cows at Wagga than at Cooma (lack of competition) hence the back and forward shuffle. We can sell straight to Monbeef and avoid agents fees but cows are about $2.20 to $2.40 per kg on the hook ($0.93-$1.01 per lb dressed with the fat cut off) $1.90/kg if under 150kg dressed. Calves processed at Monbeef go same price as cows. It is not the place to sell young cattle.

Fat cows from here tend to go to Wingham in northern NSW.
A few bigger steers go through the yards here but they are just odd lots as big lines of steers would be sold another way than the sale yards here.

There are only a handful of big buyers here, like 3, if that. There are 3 sheep buyers too and they just take turns on the pens. It is not really an auction I dont think.

I STRESS: This is a very local situation and may not be representative of the cattle market in general, and especially up north.
My not very educated and newbie opinion is that in Australia generally black angus are acceptable anywhere and whatever you are selling they want a BW load to make transport worthwhile. (BW=semi trailer-8 pens + extra front bit-4pens = 12 pens - carries 6-7 angus range cows per pen=72 cows).

Large even lines of cattle seem to be what is desired.
 
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My overall analysis is that the government, and the market, but mostly the government, have made it so inhospitable to run abatoirs that there are too few left. The way the government has done this is by making too many laws about too many things, like Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental laws, Union control, minimum wage laws, Superannuation, workers compensation, taxed on fuel, taxes on electricity, National Livestock Identification S, Levys on EVERYTHING (I read an article that said USgovernment charges about $15 per head per beast in USA along the whole processing chain and in Australia it is heading for $50 per beast in government fees). They are now getting tougher on animal welfare and transport as well.

As a consequence there are so few processors left, and they are so far apart that transport becomes such an issue, and also processors like very even lines of stock to put through. This means very little competition among buyers locally. 15 years ago there were local butchers to supply and hold up markets. Not any more.

I also have an issue with the unintended consequences of things like animal welfare laws and environment laws. The laws end up adding up and putting small local processors out of business and so my poor cattle have to travel for huge distances, and sometimes around and around from here to sale yards, then sale yards to holding places for more and more long distance transport before final slaughter. I think that is a worse welfare issue than the issues the bleeding heart mob is trying to fix.
 

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Well, except of exceptionally good prices here right now (exports to the US probably the only reason), we're in exactly the same position.. There's NO major abattoir in BC anymore, no major feedlots either, and in all of Canada the entire beef crop is in the hands of 3 multinational corporations. We are 3 hours away from the CLOSEST auction, and from there the calves go to Alberta.. so they have to travel about 1500 kms to get to the feeders, I hear you about that being a welfare issue! All the same red tape here too.. is it something about Commonwealth countries? is NZ the same?

Just looked up exchange rates.. 1 CAD = .98 AUD, 1 CAD = .92 USD

I'll say for color/types around here, Reds and RWF, Black and BWF are both well accepted, as well as Char crosses, Herfs take a hit, but nothing like an oddball Longhorn or odd coloured stuff... Which is a problem if you have Roan Shorthorns. We've taken top price at sales with solid red calves (Gelbvieh/SH crosses), so Black isn't the only thing they're looking for.
 

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Thanks for elaborating! Australia is fascinating to me, and I can't help but respect everyone that tries to make a living in animal agriculture over there. Shooting crocs from helicopters is no joke.

I agree, the government is never good for much. I think that y'all have it quite a bit worse than we do, but our own is getting their foot further in the door every day. They tried to pass Animal ID, but were faced with such a backlash that they came to their senses and dropped it (still haven't forgiven NCBA for that one). Fighting the animal rights groups, or CRAZIES, as I like to call them, is a constant battle that we can never stop fighting. They win here and there, but I think that we have been doing a better job the last couple of years in getting our own stories out to the consumers, so they can see that we are NOT actually the cruel, torturous people that PETA and HSUS make us out to be. And you're right, there are SO many unintended consequences. Like the idiotic horse slaughter ban they passed several years ago here. Horses are much worse off now than they ever were, being trucked to Mexico or left to starve in abandoned pastures. Infuriating to think that most of the people behind it probably have never been within a mile of a horse, much less been kicked, bit, stomped, or thrown off by one. To them, all animals are victims that must be protected, whether they are useless, dangerous, or not.

I wish you much luck in fighting the good fight, and hope that you are able to hold on until it starts raining. It always does, eventually!
 
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Nesikep, I dont envy you so far from the abatoir. I am always grateful that we do have a local plant only 70 km away as if we have a lame bull or cow we can take it straight in to them. We are not allowed to sell lame animals at the sale yards and otherwise we would just have to leave them in the paddock. NZ I think is getting as bad as Australia, and also it seems Canada, so yes, commonwealth countries have been too politically correct.

Re; animal identification scheme (NLIS) it is a pain and an expense. I resent that the scheme is not useful for farmers to track ownership, it is not designed for that becuase it is a scheme for the beauracrats. It is too difficult for small (I mean only 100 cows or so) producers to use themselves unless they are particularly computer savvy or like spending money on ear tag readers. If their cattle go somewhere on agistment who cant comply then traceability is lost as it is the responsibility of the property owner where the cattle go to comply. If they wont comply you cant make them so your cattle are in the wrong place on the scheme. Every tag you buy is logged as yours, so all the old tags sitting in the cupboard are on the database as animals, as are all the ear tags that the cattle pull off, which is lots, or all the ones I accidentally mess up, or leave somewhere. These animal records will accumulate over the years until I think one day it wont work well any more. They make us put plastic tags in the sheep. This is not too bad. They are talking about electronic tags for every sheep. That is insane. Sheep are not infrequently worth less than the tags. The numbers of sheep are enormous compared to cattle and would add ridiculous time costs to read tags at the sale yards. I guess that is a government employees paradise.

I am mad at our (compulsory levy funded) sheep industy body having dealings with PETA and trying to compromise and appease them on the subject of mulsing. There is NO compromise with bodies like PETA who have a policy of humans not using animals at all - cant compromise with a group that will not compromise themselves. If we let them win on something like mulsing the next thing will be castration, tailing and shearing (they started on that on the ABC recently). Then we cant run animals, which is their goal.

What I said about abatoirs and cattle and sheep, ditto for horses. I have show horses and use them on the farm and have had them all my life and I would say they are my lifes passion, appart from the farm. Nothing like a nice small local horse abatoir for humane, quick and convienient euthenasia of a sick or rank horse. The suffering of shipping horses to Mexico in cattle trucks as an alternative is horrifying.

Pray for an early spring and good rain for me, my cattle are doing it tough just now and when they dont feel good, I dont feel good and spring seems a long time away.
 

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